The financial sector once had its pick of raw talent. Now, crypto firms are leading the way post-COVID in attracting the best financial minds.
The race to attract and retain top talent is well and truly on in the world of finance.
Offering the right packages to the technologists of the world was always a tall order when trying to retain the top workers. It seems that this is proving the case for leading traders and associates now too.
As with all industries, a few key players at the very top of the leaderboard tend to swipe the bulk of the talent.
A little over a decade ago, banking and finance were the go-to industries if you were hunting for a stable salary, attractive conditions, and a great working environment.
However, much has changed in the world of finance in the interim, and decentralised finance, or DeFi, technology has, alongside cryptocurrencies, forced the banks to grapple to remain the leaders of the financial world.
Since 2014, crypto investment firms have been embracing and attracting top talent from numerous industries. This could spell trouble for traditional banks trying to attract young talent, as the workforce embraces crypto and DeFi protocols to get involved in perhaps more complicated but more innovative projects and firms.
An unmissable opportunity
Christopher Perkins, President of Coinfund, was a US marine for nine years before building the leading derivatives business at Lehman brothers at the epicentre of the global financial crash.
After taking on a new challenge at Citigroup as global co-head of Futures, Clearing and Foreign Exchange, Perkins was at the top of his game with over 700 direct and indirect reports.
That was the exact time when he decided to walk away.
"I walked away at the top of my game because I couldn’t ignore the opportunity I was seeing. I started looking at blockchain in 2015," he said.
"I watched and studied, doing my due diligence. I started touching, feeling, and tasting the technology. It made me start to think.
"Then you realise that you have to unlearn and rethink. If we are intellectually honest with ourselves the global financial crisis was caused by a concentration of risk into a handful of players".
In his new position, Perkins is scaling up CoinFund’s reputation as a leading digital and traditional asset financial firm. He feels that a broad range of people from all backgrounds is needed for the space to thrive.
"Diversity is needed in this space. You need many different disciplines," he added. "If you have the same type of people, you achieve the same outcomes every time".
Employees see their future in digital
The fight to secure talent or lure skillful candidates into crypto firms may have been difficult in the past but in the age of digital-first financial services, it is luring talent into the sector.
With over 68 million active blockchain wallet addresses and a fully-fledged ecosystem and layers of new funds and financial services to offer clients, it has become a no-brainer for all those who dive headfirst into the trading world, or love getting involved in the design and build of financial products and learning new technical skills.
After doing his due diligence and speaking with some of the world's largest asset managers, Haydn Hammond, Sales Director at Invictus Capital, knew that he could create a bridge between banking and crypto.
"Most of my clients wanted a trusted advisor in the space," he said. "I had already built up a solid investment portfolio with a calculated risk approach. The crypto industry moves at an incredible pace and I am learning so much".
Rather than lamenting the past, organisations must think creatively about employee needs for the future.
"In the last two years, we have seen a great shift in demand for the roles we are seeking candidates for. Traditional investment analysts see the opportunities that exist in crypto and naturally want a slice of the action," said Hammond.
Crypto firms offer flexibility
Fast-paced, diverse, and challenging may seem daunting to some but to others it offers the chance to learn quickly and tap into different skill sets for varied projects.
"I am a builder, I love building," Perkins noted. "Understanding risk management and making really quick, decisive actions are a core part of what I know how to do".
It can also be said that crypto firms have been leading advocates of the hybrid workforce. Even before COVID-19 forced executives to work remotely, companies had begun to adopt the hybrid model of work with increased flexibility for employees.
"We are no longer restrained by physical office space. The digital world has given us the freedom to work from anywhere and in any time zone. The new perks to attract talent will revolve around flexibility, virtual team building events, and employee empowerment," said Hammond.
It could be said that crypto matured in the remote working world so it has had advanced time to ensure productivity levels remain high.
It has also played a large part in inviting executives to consider their options and look at ways in which working from home can be flexible. In contrast, oftentimes within the banking sector employees are restrained by traditional working codes of conduct: a 9 am start, an hour for lunch, 15 minutes for coffee.
For modern companies today, these rules no longer apply. This lack of regimented structure for work isn't for everyone but a flexible approach does seem to be part of the future and most forward-looking companies have embraced this shift in employee needs.
Not only is the industry a remote-first sector, many of the founders, employees, and organisations working within the industry have never worked in the corporate office pre-COVID-19.
Unaware of the nuances that existed, rules that applied to lunch breaks or office attire, the world of decentralised finance offers more freedom in time, style and location.
Having access to a skilled labour force is key to remaining on top within any industry so there is a battle for who can attract and retain the best performers.
Having jumped with two feet into the space, Perkins admits he wishes he did it earlier.
The overarching trend appears to be that as long as crypto firms embrace the new world of decentralised finance, with all of the disruption and opportunities it brings to the table, then they will continue to attract interest from leaders in the traditional banking sector.